A Guide to Making Baby Bath-Time Easy
The idea of bathing a baby can be scary, but with the right tools and a little confidence you can get the job done easily. After the first week or two when the umbilical cord falls of you're usually good to start immersing baby in a bath instead of just sponge-bathing. Some people find it easiest to do this in a kitchen sink. I'm short enough that it's not a great height for me to maintain comfortable control, plus I was always afraid that baby would accidentally hit the faucet and turn the water suddenly hot or cold.
A Baby Bathtub holds the baby safely in a small amount of water so you can wash the baby and be safely in control.
The tub I used was made for two stages: there was a cloth sling that gently held my baby when he was a newborn. Once he was able to sit with support I took the sling out and he rested his bottom on a soft plastic part that stuck up like a seat. This tub came with toys that I could fill with a tiny amount of water and splash him with (which he absolutely LOVED) and once he was big enough to handle toys himself he played with them in the normal bathtub. This tub also had an easy-to-read temperature indicator with three levels: too cold, too hot, and just right. Most tubs also have a stopper to let you hold the water in it and is easily removable when you're ready to drain it.
An essential that you'll probably receive lots of in baby shower gifts is Baby Wash. Some people prefer seperate bottles of baby shampoo and baby wash, but Johnson & Johnson makes a great head-to-toe wash that is tear-free. This stuff lathers well and didn't irritate or dry out my baby's skin. The scent was not at all invasive and I still use it sometimes on my 14 month old... and sometimes on my own face!
Hooded Towels and Wash Cloths can often be purchased in sets. You'll want to gently wipe baby's face and body with the cloth to remove any debris. The hooded towels are great because you wrap your little one right up, including their head, without covering their face. It's easy to dry baby off this way... and sneak in a cuddle while you're at it, since the hooded towel makes them look so snuggly.
You can find hooded towel and wash cloth sets in thin material, thick plushy material, in solid colors, prints, and even in fun character (monsters, puppies, ducks) sets.
Baby Lotion is a wise buy. Many people skip this step because they forget, don't think it's important, or just think it's a waste of money. While it doesn't hurt your little one to go without it can certainly help for several reasons. Your baby's skin, like yours, can get dry due to a variety of things. Keep in mind that babies' skin is very sensitive and not as resistant to weather changes and hard water. Also, putting lotion on your baby can be a soothing experience similar to massage and it is such a great way to bond. Lotioning the baby after bathtime (especially if it is right before bedtime!) can help the baby relax as well.
I have tried a few lotions and really like the good old pink stuff Johnson & Johnson makes! Almost everyone thinks of the pink lotion bottle when they think of baby lotion. This traditional baby lotion smells floral and powdery but isn't too strong and makes the skin smooth and soft without being sticky. Sometimes when bathtime falls right before bedtime I use baby lotion that has lavender to sooth and calm my now-toddler.
It's important to be gentle but to reach all the nooks and crannies on your babies body. When they are infants they tend to get dirt on their necks, hands, feet, privates, belly buttons... everywhere! Use your baby wash to make a gentle lather and use the cloth to reach those areas. Tell your baby what body parts your washing as you do it... it sounds silly, but talking to them about their bodies is important starting on day one, plus the sound of your voice as you talk and sing to them makes the experience a safe, fun one for them.
Dry your baby as well as you can and squeeze in some cuddles while you towel dry and when you lotion him or her. Of course you'll want to diaper and clothe the baby as soon as she or he is dry.
Make the experience fun so that your baby gets used to baths and water and consider making it part of your bedtime routine. And don't forget... take lots of pictures... you'll cherish them later!
Here are a few of my favorite bathtime photos...
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